Namibia - Consular Information Sheet
May 11, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Namibia is a southern African country
with a moderately developed economy. Facilities for tourism are
good and generally increasing in quality. The capital is Windhoek.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are normally
required. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia
for tourism for less than ninety (90) days can obtain visas at
the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the
country. Travelers coming for work, whether paid or voluntary,
must obtain their visas prior to entering Namibia. Travelers should
obtain the latest information from the Embassy of Namibia at 1605
New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone (202)
986-0540, or from the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the U.N.
at 135 W. 36th St., New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 685-2003,
fax (212) 685-1561. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest
Namibian embassy or consulate.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Windhoek strongly
urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Kavango and Caprivi
regions of northeast Namibia due to the uncertain security situation.
U.S. Government-affiliated personnel have been relocated, and
U.S. citizens in the area have been urged to depart. Fighting
between the armed forces of Angola and the National Union for
the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) has spilled over into
Namibia. UNITA has staged violent cross-border raids and planted
land mines. Many local Namibian citizens have been injured or
killed by land mines planted in the Kavango region bordering Angola.
Foreign tourists have been attacked and killed by men in military
uniform on the Trans-Caprivi Highway between Rundu and Katima
The U.S. Embassy alerts American citizens to the potential for
the Angolan civil war to affect regions along the Namibia-Angola
border. On April 19, 2001, an anti-tank mine exploded approximately
35 km. east of Oshikango and approximately 2 km. south of the
Namibia-Angola border in the Ohangwena region of northern Namibia.
The blast injured two Namibians traveling in the truck which detonated
the mine. U.S. citizens should exercise caution and maintain security
awareness when traveling near the Namibia-Angola border.
The U.S. Embassy also alerts American citizens to the continuing
tensions in the Caprivi region that could affect their personal
safety. While the government of Namibia has lifted the state of
emergency declared following the outbreak of secessionist-related
violence on August 2, 1999, the potential remains for further
conflict between Namibian government forces and members of the
U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations
and maintain security awareness at all times. U.S. citizens considering
travel to northern Namibia are urged to contact the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek for up-to-date security information.
CRIME: Incidents of violent crime directed against Americans
and other visitors to Namibia are rare, but petty crime is on
the rise, particularly in urban areas. The most common criminal
offenses committed in the capital are non-violent crimes of opportunity
including pickpocketing, purse-snatching, vehicle theft, and vehicle
break-ins. Common sense measures, such as not leaving valuables
in plain sight in parked cars, safeguarding purses, keeping wallets
in front pockets and being alert to one's surroundings are the
best deterrents against becoming a victim of criminal activity.
In addition to the uncertain security situation along the Angolan
border, banditry remains a problem in that region of Namibia.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad,
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are relatively
modern, especially in the capital city of Windhoek.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred
outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.
Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. However, many
travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that
will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency
services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars
(US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often
face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased
overseas medical insurance have found it life-saving when a medical
emergency occurs. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas
healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses
that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage
for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the
event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via the
CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Namibia is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
In Namibia, driving is done on the left-hand side of the road.
Many of Namibia's rural roads are gravel. Although these roads
are generally well-maintained and graded, controlling a vehicle
on gravel is significantly more difficult than on pavement. Drivers
should not drive in excess of 80 km. per hour (45 mph) on gravel
roads, should reduce speed significantly for curves or turns,
and should heed all warning signs. Speeding on gravel roads can
easily lead to a roll-over or spin-out, even though the roads
may appear safe for driving at high speeds.
Turning on a red traffic light is not permitted in Namibia. Seat
belts are required for all vehicle occupants. Motorcyclists are
required by law to wear protective helmets. While child car seats
are not required, they are recommended. To prevent carjacking
and theft, it is advisable to keep car doors locked and windows
A valid U.S. driver's license is required for short-term visitors.
Visitors intending to stay in Namibia for more than a few weeks
should approach the American Automobile Association or the American
Automobile Touring Alliance before their departure from the United
States, in order to be issued an international driving permit.
International driving permits cannot be issued to Americans once
they arrive in Namibia.
Roads in Namibia are generally well maintained; however, few
have shoulders or breakdown lanes. Wildlife wandering on roads
poses a special driving hazard in Namibia, especially at night.
An encounter at high speeds with antelope or cattle can be fatal.
Many accidents on gravel roads occur when tourists exceed safe
speeds on corners or in areas recently damaged by rains. Hitting
a sand patch or driving around a curve too fast can easily result
in a roll-over or spin-out. The salt surfaced roads at the coast
can also be deceptively dangerous, especially when they have been
made slick by morning or evening mist.
Most major roads are undivided with one lane in each direction.
Drivers should remain alert for passing vehicles and exercise
caution when passing slow moving vehicles. Drivers should always
maintain a safe following distance. Accidents involving drunk
drivers are an increasing problem on major roads where there are
high speed limits. Driving under the influence is illegal in Namibia.
A charge of culpable homicide can be made against a driver involved
in an accident resulting in death.
Roadside assistance and emergency medical services outside of
Windhoek may be unreliable or non-existent. Cell phone coverage
is limited outside major towns. Assistance on main roads, however,
is generally good due to the wide use of cell phones and the willingness
of passing motorists to help. Public transportation is not widely
available outside the capital. Public transportation within the
capital is limited to taxis and municipal buses, though schedules
and routes are limited. Vehicle rentals or radio taxis are generally
the best means of transport, but may be relatively expensive.
Flashing of high beams and similar signals could mean anything
from a friendly greeting to a warning. When encountering a motorcade,
motorists are encouraged to make way immediately and follow promptly
any instructions given by the officials present.
Emergency services contact numbers vary from town to town. The
Namibian telephone directory has a list of emergency contact numbers
at the beginning of each town listing. It is recommended that
Americans maintain a list of contact numbers for the area in which
they plan to drive. Telephone numbers may change, and 24-hour
availability of these numbers is not guaranteed.
Because of the possibility of intoxicated and/or reckless drivers,
the poor mechanical condition of some motor vehicles, and the
high incidence of single-vehicle roll-over accidents, Americans
are urged to avoid hitchhiking in Namibia.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information concerning Namibian driver's permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the
Namibia National Tourist Organization offices in New York
via the Internet at http://www.namibia-tourism.com. Also, for
more information on driving in Namibia, please see the
U.S. Embassy Windhoek web site at http://www.usembassy.namib.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such
service between the U.S. and Namibia, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed Namibia's Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873,
or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Namibia's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Namibia are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
Americans should avoid purchasing diamonds and other protected
resources outside of licensed retail establishments. The sentence
for illegal dealing in diamonds in Namibia is stiff -- up to $20,000
(U.S.) in fines or five years in prison -- and the courts generally
impose the maximum sentence. The purchase and exportation of other
protected resources, such as elephant ivory, may also be prohibited
by Namibian, international, and/or U.S. law.
DANGERS POSED BY WILD ANIMALS: Travelers are advised that
even in the most serene settings, the animals are wild and can
pose a threat to life and safety. Travelers are cautioned to observe
all local or park regulations and heed all instructions given
by tour guides. In addition, tourists are advised that potentially
dangerous areas sometimes lack fences and warning signs. Appropriate
caution should be used in all unfamiliar surroundings.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in
or visiting Namibia are encouraged to register at the Consular
Section of the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Namibia. The U.S. Embassy is located
at 14 Lossen Street, Ausspannplatz, Windhoek, telephone (264-61)
22-1061, fax (264-61) 22-9792. The mailing address is Private
Bag 12029, Windhoek, Namibia.